Governor Offers New Approach To Disarmament In The North Rift

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich has called on the national government to deploy intelligence-based disarmament strategies to succeed in riding off guns from the wrong hands in the North Rift. Rotich said with the correct intelligence report, security agencies will easily map out illegal gun wielders and ask them to surrender to authorities and help in identifying the ones who fail to surrender. The governor advised against forced mop-up of illegal firearms, saying the strategy was unpopular because innocent people were victimized when security officers undertook a blanket crackdown on communities where the gunmen lived. Speaking when he received the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, and Foreign Relations at his office, the governor said illegal arms have continued to be the major catalysts of conflicts in the Kerio Valley. Rotich told the committee led by their chair and the Baringo Senator William Cheptumo that while there has been relative calm following the government’s intervention, peace is yet to be restored with residents still possessing firearms. ‘With residents still possessing firearms, any small disagreement between individuals is resolved by using the guns which in turn results in a full-scale war between communities living in the area,’ he said. The governor called for equipping the security personnel with the necessary equipment to enable them to respond effectively saying criminals in the area had more sophisticated equipment than the security personnel. Rotich called for the use of technology, citing the use of drones in the patrol of the vast area and also the use of microchips on livestock which will help in tracking them whenever there is a raid. He added that there was the need to adjudicate land in the area so that each person would fence their portions thus blocking the routes used by criminals adding that the government should consider the construction of schools, especially in Tiaty Sub County in the neighbouring Baringo County. On his part, the county commissioner John Korir called on the government to pay police reservists saying without money they can misuse the firearms as they are armed and demoralized. He appealed to the government to reinstate the payment of stipends to peace committee members who perform a vital role in engaging communities wherever there is a raid. On his part, Cheptumo called on the county governments to complement the government’s efforts in funding security activities. However, Rotich said the county was constrained in terms of resources saying out of the sh.4 billion the county receives, Sh3 billion is consumed by recurrent expenditure, while the Sh1 billion for development is allocated to the 20 wards in the county. He called on the committee to engage the Commission on Revenue Allocation to consider allocating more funds to counties dealing with insecurity. Other senators who attended the meeting included the Vice Chair Karen Nyamu (nominated) and Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) and the host William Kisang (Elgeyo Maraket).

Source: Kenya News Agency